Michigan State football promotes Travares Tillman to cornerbacks coach

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Mel Tucker did not go far to fill a hole on his coaching staff.

Travares Tillman, who spent last season as a senior defensive assistant, was named Michigan State’s cornerbacks coach on Thursday, filling a vacancy left when safeties coach Mike Tressel left to become the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati.

Travares Tillman

With Tillman’s promotion, Harlon Barnett, who coached cornerbacks in 2020, becomes the secondary coach.

“Travares is an excellent defensive backs coach who has played and coached at the highest levels of football,” Tucker said in a statement. “He played seven seasons in the NFL and has coached in the College Football Playoff. I was impressed with Travares when he was on our defensive staff at Georgia and have been working with him ever since. He connects with the players and will be dynamic and relentless on the recruiting trail.

“Travares has already spent one season on our staff here at MSU, so he understands our culture and what we’re doing from a schematic perspective. He possesses the traits and skills we’re looking for on our defensive staff.”

Tillman, 43, was a two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference defensive back at Georgia Tech from 1996-99 before spending seven seasons in the NFL.

His coaching career began at Calvary Day School in Savannah, Georgia, from 2012-15, while spending the summer of 2013 with Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs in as a recipient of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

Tillman then headed to Georgia for three seasons, working as a graduate assistant with the defensive backs along with Tucker from 2016-17 and becoming a quality control coach with the defense for the 2018 season. In 2019, Tillman followed Tucker to Colorado as the defensive backs coach before taking a spot as a senior defensive assistant at Michigan State when Tucker became the Spartans’ head coach a year ago.

The move promoting Tillman rounds out Tucker’s staff of 10 on-field assistants and marks the end of a 14-year run at Michigan State for Tressel, who spent 13 years working for Mark Dantonio before transitioning to Tucker’s staff in 2020.

“Mike Tressel is a tireless worker who put his heart and soul into the Michigan State football program the past 14 seasons,” Tucker said. “I want to thank him for all of his contributions to Spartan football and helping build one of the best defenses in the country.

“I first had a chance to get to know Mike during our time at Ohio State coaching the defensive backs, where we won a National Championship together, and I was really excited he was able to be a part of our coaching staff during my first season back at Michigan State. He is a tremendous coach with a wealth of football knowledge. I wish Mike well during his next opportunity as the defensive coordinator at Cincinnati.”


Twitter: @mattcharboneau